The NFL Draft: Here We Go Again

I think I’ll start my draft research today. I’ve gotten plenty of questions about specific prospects but I don’t pay any attention to college football or the draft until now, when the Pats’ season is over.

I find that three-plus months is more than enough time for the goat rodeo that goes on each spring. There are plenty of draftniks out there that study far more film than I do and they do it year-round. 

I don’t claim to be an expert at scouting, I only claim to understand the kind of players that fit the Patriots scheme and the kind of players that they look for. If you want to see how I’ve done in each of the last three seasons with my Patriots draft board, you can find out here: 2011, 2012, 2013.

Draft analysis has almost become a competitive sport at this point, but I just try to do it for myself for fun.  People get so attached to prospects, angered at random mock drafts, or into vehement arguments regarding who will be drafted where. At the end of the draft, almost everyone is 90% wrong about everything.

Here’s a secret - even the NFL teams don’t really know what they’re doing, much less the countless amateur draftniks out there. Again, I don’t want to take away from all the hard work that many out there do, but trying to predict the completely unpredictable and then getting mad about those who disagree is silly.

A huge percentage of these prospects we spend so much time debating will be out of the NFL in a matter of years, if not months. And that one player you love for the Patriots? Yeah, they’re probably not going to draft him.

So let’s just try to have fun with it. My favorite part of the draft is when it’s over and the speculation is done. The Pats will have a handful of rookies and then we can dive into the real analysis.

I’ll be focusing on free agency in most of the posts here in the coming weeks, while slowly crafting my big board. “Needs” at this point are pointless in relation to the draft. The Pats will fill every hole they have in free agency so they’re free to take the best player available in the draft.

So our focus will remain mostly on free agency for now but the time has come once again to hit the draft pipe… 

10) New England Patriots
Key signees: Cory Grissom, DT, South Florida; Zach Sudfeld, TE, Nevada; Matt Stankiewitch, C, Penn State. Grissom was a top-notch high school wrestler, and wrestlers often make for good defensive linemen. The three-year starting nose tackle can be a good player against the run. Sudfeld moves well for a big guy. He’s the type of player New England routinely molds into a contributor. The same goes for Stankiewitch, a smart overachiever who looks like a good developmental project.
It wasn’t a surprise to see the Patriots select three of the Top 10 finishers in the 3-cone drill at the combine this season, with Mizzou wide receiver T.J. Moe (second overall at 6.53) going as an undrafted free agent and Boyce (fifth at 6.68) being taken in the fourth round and Ryan (seventh at 6.69) selected in the third round.

Great breakdown with insight into each pick and where they might find themselves playing…

Our Patriots Draft Selection Reviews

Here’s some quick linkage to everything we wrote yesterday about the four new Patriots:

Grading all four of the Pats picks in one place.

How Jamie Collins fits into the Pats.

How Aaron Dobson fits into the Pats.

How Logan Ryan fits into the Pats.

How Duron Harmon fits into the Pats.

Day 3 Mock Draft.

Some other overall thoughts…

I’m excited to see how they use Jamie Collins. The fact that they spent their first pick on him tells me a lot. I didn’t think defensive end was a huge need, but it seems like the desire to get more athletic trumps everything. 

The fact is that the guy is an athletic freak, and I’m sure BB will find a way to maximize his talents.

WIth Ryan and Harmon joining the secondary I say just throw them all in the mix and see who emerges from training camp healthy and playing well.  Ras-I Dowling better have himself a camp.

I don’t know what exactly they saw in Harmon (no one does), but it will be interesting to see where he starts out. Clearly BB values the strong safety position a lot given where offenses are headed.

Hoping they grab another receiver or two today.

29. New England Patriots - Robert Woods, WR, USC
The Patriots draft situation is more fluid than ever. They could go in about three different directions depending on how the draft board shakes out. What I do know is that they are focused on four areas CB, WR, DL and OG. Depending on how the picks before them go, it’s likely they go wide receiver or cornerback with their first pick. Over the last three months the Patriots have spent a lot of time and resources scouting the receiver class. Out of all the receivers that could be picked with this selection, I believe Woods is the best fit. His ability to run a number of different routes, line up anywhere in the formation and his strong hands make him a great fit for the Patriots offense. Woods will give OC Josh McDaniels a lot of flexibility with formations and how he is lined up. If it weren’t for his ankle injury Woods would be ranked much higher. If Woods is off the board, I expect the Patriots to target a CB and reset their WR board heading into the second round. Cornerbacks to keep an eye on are Jamar Taylor, Blidi Wreh-Wilson and potentially Desmond Trufant.
New England Patriots: It’s odd to see the Patriots with only three picks in the first six rounds. It’s a good thing then that they don’t need to do much in the draft. Finding help at receiver, defensive tackle and cornerback is New England’s primary goal. Ideal 2013 NFL Draft (First Four Rounds): 29. Jamar Taylor, CB 59. Markus Wheaton, WR 91. Dallas Thomas, G/OT

Good solid work from Frenz rounding up a bunch of AFC East mocks. The Pats selections:

Good cross section that represents the various points of view from Patriots fans from around the internet. Even if the players aren’t right I’d say this is likely the only three positions they could take in the first, though everyone can probably agree that a trade down makes sense this year. Even more so because of the talent at all three positions.

Mock Drafting: Picking for the 2012 schemes or 2013 potential evolutions?

I am really agonizing over this final mock draft, as you can probably tell from my double posts today sharing my thoughts on putting it together. 

Ultimately here’s what it comes down to: Do I pick the guys for how the 2012 Patriots ran things? Or do I pick the guys for how I think the 2013 Patriots should evolve?

The easiest example of this is on the defensive line where I’ve written ad nauseum about the need for pass rush in the base defense. While I have stats to back that argument up, it’s impossible to know if they want to stick with the “double-nose” base.

If they want to stick with that there are plenty of options like Jesse Willams or Johnathan Hankins at the top of the draft. But if I stay true to how I think they should evolve I would take someone like Sylvester Wiliams or Kawann Short.

Same thing goes for receivers. Ideally a tall outside threat seems like the missing piece, so someone like Justin Hunter would make sense. But maybe the Pats like their offense built around possession receivers just fine, so that would put those 6’0” or under into play as well.

Wish there were some perfect guys who are a combination of both but I don’t see anyone clear cut.